The year is 2001. The middle school bus stops by your house in 10 minutes as you hastily smudge on frosted lip gloss, grab your tattoo choker necklace and add an extra gem to your jeans’ bedazzled pocket. Trucker hats and studded belts are all the rage. In some ways, times are simpler.
Pop punk is also at the height of its popularity, with some of the genre’s biggest bands dropping massive albums that year. Surely, even your bus driver recognizes your favorite bands. Here are the 16 best pop-punk albums released in 2001.
Sum 41 – All Killer, No Filler
The snot-nosed, Canadian pop-punkers’ magnum opus dominated Total Request Live with tracks such as “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep.” But it’s the Sum 41 album’s depth, with standouts such as “Rhythms” and “All She’s Got” helped it pass the test of time. There’s little variety here. Just 12 breakneck pop-punk songs produced by the legendary Jerry Finn triggering our nostalgia.
blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
When bands strike gold, they often get too cute. They change course, experiment with new sounds and lose what made them great. Not blink-182. Take Off Your Pants And Jacket carbon copies the massively successful Enema Of The State with similar results. Arguing which is better is futile, like debating between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both are GOATs. The album gifts fans 13 more quintessential blink-182 tracks, highlighted by the iconic guitar riff in “Anthem Part Two,” three excellent singles and maybe blink- 182’s most underrated song, “Every Time I Look For You.”
Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American
Jimmy Eat World weren’t an overnight success story. The band’s momentum built for years prior to Bleed American’s release in 2001. JEW toured with top acts. They released the atmospheric Clarity in 1999, which many fans surely still think is their best work. Bleed American’s influence can’t be overstated, as it was a gateway to pop punk for so many young fans. But it was only part, the defiant capstone, of Jimmy Eat World’s rise to fame.
Relient K –The Anatomy Of The Tongue In Cheek
Relient K’s second full-length is a 17-song marathon. Clocking in at 55 minutes, it remains one of the longer pop-punk albums released during that time. The band use the time well, with tracks about worship (“Those Words Are Not Enough”) to social justice (“Failure To Excommunicate”) and everything in between. The album’s most popular tune, “Sadie Hawkins Dance,” absolutely still kicks.
The Ataris – End Is Forever
There’s something endearing about bands that bloom late. It took the Ataris four albums to crack the mainstream with their 2003 song “The Boys Of Summer.” It still earns spins on the radio. However, it was their 2001 release, End Is Forever, that set the stage for success, with “Fast Times At Drop-Out High” acting as the standout track. The album smoothly blends traditional punk with new-age pop punk. Give it a listen.
American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi
American Hi-Fi’s debut album featured one of the genre’s biggest songs, “Flavor Of The Weak.” It cracked the top 50 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart while earning listens across the world. It’s still so damn catchy. Other songs such as “My Only Enemy” and “Another Perfect Day” are worth a revisit.
Yellowcard – One For The Kids
So much nostalgia. One For The Kids was Yellowcard’s first album with singer Ryan Key. His songwriting and impressive pipes brought immediate change. “Drifting” and “Sureshot” are highlights, standing out among all the great pop-punk tracks of 2001. The album set the stage for the mainstream eruption of Ocean Avenue and Yellowcard’s incredible 13-year run that followed.
Sugarcult – Start Static
Start Static is the unsung pop-punk gem of 2001. It’s Sugarcult’s best overall work, loaded with standout tunes. “Stuck In America” features an epic opening guitar riff, with the oh-so-relatable theme about being young and wanting to skip town. “Lost In You” is a typical track about broken relationships, while “Bouncing Off The Walls” earned mainstream fame through the help of the movie Van Wilder. Its music video featured clips from the movie, starring Tara Reid and some guy named Ryan Reynolds.
Lit – Atomic
Topping their 1999 commercial breakthrough A Place In The Sun was always going to be tough. But Lit’s 2001 encore, Atomic, is an admirable effort highlighted by its bouncy closing track, “Over My Head.” We can all sometimes relate to the simple line “I’m in over my head/Stuck in the red.”
Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary
Maybe 2001’s most affecting pop-punk record was Alkaline Trio’s From Here To Infirmary. And nobody better explains that than MOD SUN. From Here To Infirmary showcased the band’s songwriting prowess and knack for gothic aesthetics. In a long list of great pop-punk albums to come out of Chicago, Alkaline Trio’s third studio record is right at the top.
Weezer – Weezer (The Green Album)
Always skilled at tweaking their sound to keep up with the times, Weezer jumped on the pop-punk train with their Green Album in 2001. It was a smash hit, going platinum by September of that year and putting Weezer back on the map after the criminally underrated Pinkerton flopped. “Hash Pipe” is a classic, while “Island In The Sun” is still one of the band’s biggest songs. The Green Album brought Weezer back from a hiatus, paving the way for two decades of success.
No Doubt – Rock Steady
Rock Steady reflected a sound change from the pop-punk titans No Doubt, focusing on electropop and dance hall. It’s experimental, with the band deviating from their standard instrumentals. Still, the album received rave reviews and opened the door for Gwen Stefani to attempt a solo career.
Rufio – Perhaps, I Suppose…
Rufio’s debut album captures adolescents in Southern California, a Frankenstein’s monster of pop punk, ska and metal. It’s the kind of record you jammed to in parking lots outside your high school football stadium while the cool kids wasted time at the game. You never needed to be popular. All that mattered was goofing off with good friends and Rufio on the Walkman.
Mest – Destination Unknown
In their most successful album, Mest mix a variety of upbeat tracks with some excellent slow tunes. The instrumentals excel, and there are enough horns to satisfy ska fans. Destination Unknown is a happy medium between Goldfinger and Simple Plan. Take a trip back in time and give it a listen.
Lucky Boys Confusion – Throwing The Game
While Fall Out Boy jammed in Chicago’s north suburbs, Lucky Boys Confusion made serious noise in the city’s Western burbs. Under Elektra Records, the band dropped their breakthrough album Throwing The Game in 2001. It’s a deep record, highlighted by the standout “Fred Astaire.” While Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” and bink-182’s “First Date” received mainstream fame, “Fred Astaire” was the best pop-punk song of 2001.
Hey Mercedes – Everynight Fire Works
After Braid, the popular emo band born on the campus of the University of Illinois, disbanded, most of its members formed Hey Mercedes. Their debut, Everynight Fire Works, was a success, anchored by the natural pop-punk vocals of Bob Nanna. The album compares well to fellow pop-punk/emo hybrids, such as Saves The Day and Thursday.